© — Submitted photo
Back in the winter of 1995, the Psychobilly Cadillacs had arranged a Saturday night gig at Twillingate’s Anchor Inn. The night was meant to be like a sort of variety show with other acts, which was fine with the Cadillacs, since, at that point, they only knew eight songs.
Trouble was, after a Friday night rehearsal that lasted until 4 a.m., none of the other acts showed up for Saturday’s show.
“We played our eight songs and took a break and ran up to our complimentary hotel room and said, ‘What are we going to do now?’ Then we started hearing people down in the bar, stomping on the floor (for more),” said bass player Smokey Tucker.
“We ran back down and played our eight songs over and over until
The situation, desperate at the time, but hilarious now when they look back on it, ended up inspiring the tune “Prayin’ for Closin’ Time.”
Oh Lord, please take me now, Amen
Ran out of songs ’bout half past 10
Played everything I know three times
I’m breakin’ strings just to waste some time
I feel this night will never end.
The song is one of six on a self-titled EP the Psychobilly Cadillacs will officially release tonight at an event at The Ship pub in St. John’s.
The band first got together in St. Philip’s back in 1989, at a time, Tucker said, when lots of musicians were doing punk and ska, but no one was doing country. Their very first song was Johnny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time” (they took their name from Cash’s radio handle in the song) and they played a few shows, releasing their debut record, “Nobody Never Told Me,” in 1995.
After a while, life took its toll and the Cadillacs scattered, never really breaking up, but becoming busy with families and careers.
“Time just got away from us,” Tucker said. For his part, he ended up working down in Wyoming (“For a man named Tex — seriously”) and then spent the better part of 10 years overseas.
While the guys always remained connected as friends, they reconnected musically a couple years ago, and decided to get back into music in a serious way. The addition of a new lead guitarist, Skeet Breeder, took the band from country/rock in a more rockabilly/punk direction. Johnny Cash is still a main influence, Tucker said, along with other musicians.
“We’re not quite psychobilly, but we’re certainly more now than we were back then. We just put up with grief from the true psychobillies, with all their tattoos and everything,” Tucker said, laughing.
“We have a unique sound, with a lot of country, punk and rock band styles. It’s too hokey to be serious, and more loud than straight country. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and who doesn’t like foot-stompin’ music?”
The Cadillacs are definitely unique around here — no other band does quite the same style of frantic, blistering punky-tonk country. The fun that went into writing and recording the album is audible.
Wanting to get something out in the public to reflect their new sound, the Cadillacs decided on an EP rather than a full-length record this time around, and started writing.
Some songs are written in bits and pieces, someone bringing in a rough draft and the others tweaking it, while some are written all together, in real time.
The songs are Newfoundland-based psychobilly, Tucker explained, inspired by everything from heartache on Bell Island to bars on George Street.
“She Only Half Cried” is a song written when the band first started, which has taken on a new life and sound.
Back when “Nobody Never Told Me” was recorded, many of the tunes were recorded without ever having been played live and worked out on stage. The Cadillacs were young and responsibility-free enough to take 10 days off and finish the album; their grown-up lives and roles creates tension when it comes to recording, Tucker said, that they use to their advantage.
“We’re four different individuals with four different backgrounds. It makes for great production tension. Useful tension, because we all have the same goal.
“We’re a little bit older now, but I don’t want to say we’re more mature,” Tucker said. “We were very light green back then; were just green now. Last time, we were just pleased to have a CD. This time, I think we got the things down that we wanted to get down.”
Saturday night’s CD release party will be a celebration of the record and the Psychobilly Cadillacs’ second wind.
Chris LeDrew will accompany the band on steel guitar and Janet Cull will sing backup, while Brothers in Stereo will do an acoustic set. The Sean Panting Band will also perform. Cover is $10 and the show starts at 10 p.m.
The CD is available in local record stores, and the Cadillacs are planning to follow it up with another full-length project before too long.
“We’re in a more creative area now than we’ve ever been as a band,” Tucker said.